Hello and welcome back to the RGS blog! In our last blog, we began discussing the ways in which you can make your home more energy efficient. Having an energy efficient home isn’t just about the renewable energy that you… read more
Soaring utility prices and year-round sun make home solar panels a cheaper, smarter choice for a lower electricity bill in New York.
Why pay more for dirty power when you can save thousands with clean solar energy?
New York sees plenty of cloudy, rainy, and snowy days throughout the year—not exactly a state known for abundant sunshine. Despite this, New York has seen an impressive rise in solar energy in the last few years. From 2011 to 2016, New York has realized almost 800 percent growth of solar energy according to NYSERDA. What this should tell you, if you are only minimally familiar with how solar energy works, is that even in an oft-cloudy state like New York, solar energy is a viable and successful alternative to our current reliance on fossil fuels. Here at RGS Energy, one of the questions we hear most frequently is, “How does solar energy work on cloudy days?” followed closely by, “Is solar energy even worth it in areas that are not sunny all the time?” One of the most common misconceptions about solar panels is that they only produce energy on bright, sunny days. That is not the case at all! Solar energy is one of the best renewable resources available to us today because it provides clean energy with no harmful byproducts, and it does so even on days that the sun is hidden by cloud cover. So, how does it work?
A residential solar panel system is actually a fairly simple system. It is really only made up of two components: solar panels and an inverter. Of course, it is a bit more complex than that, but not by much. Each solar panel is comprised of roughly 60 photovoltaic cells (also called PV cells or solar cells). The PV cells join together within the panel and absorb solar rays in the same way a plant absorbs sunlight for food. The photovoltaic cells take all the energy absorbed via sunlight and store it as DC power. The average New York home needs somewhere in the range of 10 to 20 solar panels, which form a solar array when combined. All those panels connected together manage to absorb and generate enough energy to power a home, from large appliances and HVAC systems all the way down to a phone charger plugged into the wall. From there, the energy travels from the solar array down to the inverter, where the current is converted to AC power so your home can actually use it. Once the energy generated has been converted to a usable current, it passes through the home’s electrical breaker box and works to power your home.
Generating energy from sunlight is a pretty simple process; once your solar array is installed, there is no further work required of you beyond occasional check-ups to ensure your system is running smoothly. Fortunately, solar panel systems are designed with the elements in mind, so they are made to hold up to a good deal of wind, rain, and snow, so even maintenance is minimal. In addition, solar panel manufacturers know that cloudy days and precipitation happen, so they are designed to absorb as much light as possible, even when the day is not blindingly bright. This way, you can enjoy the most energy production possible without worrying about the number of overcast days New York generally experiences. But how does that work?
Even dark clouds on overcast days allow some level of sunlight to filter through. Your solar array will absorb all the sunlight it can on those cloudy days; in fact, the RGS Energy team takes this into account when we work with you to create the right solar power system for your home. Generally, solar panels are installed at an angle so snow will slide off instead of sticking. We will also take the time to find the optimal placement for the best light absorption throughout the day, so cloudy days will have less of an impact. RGS Energy has been in the solar energy business for nearly 40 years, so we have plenty of success installing and maintaining solar power systems, even in areas that are not constantly sunny. Give us a call to learn more about what solar can do for your home!
Most of what you have likely heard about solar energy is couched in terms of what it can do to help the environment. Which is absolutely a great thing. If you seek to do your part in moving away from our reliance on fossil fuels, solar energy is a great way to do so. However, choosing to install a solar panel system on your home offers more than environmental benefits; there are plenty of financial benefits as well. With so many perks to going solar, it is a wonder more households still wait to make the switch. Here are a few of the biggest reasons switching to solar can help you and your family:
More often than not, money is the biggest hurdle standing in the way of households switching to solar power. This is ironic because of the wealth of financial savings available to households who have a solar array powering their homes. The financial benefits come at several different levels, as well, so you can enjoy plenty of financial benefits for the multi-decade life of your solar power system.
First, there is the most obvious benefit: a solar array is designed to produce enough energy to power your home. That means cutting your reliance on your local utility company, something most of us dream about as soon as we begin paying bills. At the most basic, even when you include the cost of your solar array in your calculations, you can still expect what amounts to years of free energy production through the life of your system. In fact, you may even make money! On bright days, your solar array may absorb and convert more energy than your home can actually use. This can roll back your electric meter and, depending on your electric company, can be purchased from you by the electric company in order to help power other homes.
The other key financial benefit is the array of different tax breaks and other incentives available. Lawmakers, environmentally-focused nonprofits, and so many other groups recognize the positive potential that solar energy offers. These groups also recognize that solar energy is only really going to make a noticeable difference as it becomes more widespread. In order to help more households switch to solar, there are a wealth of different local, state, and federal solar incentives, as well as benefits offered by private groups. So, not only can you save a good deal of money just by installing a solar power system, you can also get extra financial boosts from a range of different sources. The RGS Energy team does our best to keep track of all the various solar incentives available, so we can help you find those you are eligible for.
On top of the years of savings you can enjoy, the other major benefit to going solar is the extra boost you provide toward helping the environment. Currently, 85 percent of the nation’s energy comes from non-renewable sources. This includes systems powered by fossil fuels like coal and natural gas as well as nuclear power. That means that a mere 15 percent of energy is produced by all renewable resources, not just solar. Currently, most of our nation’s energy generation is produced by fossil fuel powered facilities, complete with all the pollution that comes along with the combustion of those fossil fuels. Solar energy, on the other hand, does not produce any harmful runoff, smog, or any other byproducts. In addition, solar energy is as close to an infinite resource as we can get, so there is no fear of eventually running out, as we do with coal or natural gas. If we could shift the split to even half of our nation’s energy production from renewable resources, imagine what a difference that would make environmentally. Add on the financial perks, and switching to solar should be the obvious choice. Want to learn more? Start by bringing your questions to the RGS Energy team, and let us teach you more about going solar!
Installing a solar array on your home will bring some pretty awesome benefits, even if you never touch your system again. Of course, given the lifespan of a solar array—which is around 25 years, and growing—a few steps to prepare your home and your household can go a long way towards helping you reap as many benefits as possible. Before you schedule your solar panel system installation, here are a few suggestions you may want to try. These steps are not necessarily all required, but they can help reduce the number of solar panels your array needs and otherwise help you reap the biggest financial reward possible.
This first step is one your RGS Energy Broker will help you out with. After all, we do not expect you to know where all your roof’s supports are or how much weight your roof is rated to support. All of our solar panel installation teams are fully licensed and keep up with industry best practices to ensure your solar array is installed properly. What you will want to do before scheduling an installation is to start by having your roof inspected by a trusted local roofer. It is possible to take down your solar array if your roof needs repair work done, but it is much easier to simply make sure your roof is in good repair before the panels are installed in the first place. Many years of heavy New York winters can wear down a roof, so start your solar installation process with a roof inspection (and repairs, if necessary).
This step is not a necessary one in the way that roof repairs may be. However, taking steps to improve your home’s efficiency generally means your home will require less energy to run, which means less energy for your solar array to produce. This could result in your energy company may buy more energy from you on a monthly basis, or it may mean your home needs a smaller solar array from the beginning. Start with our video on improving home efficiency to see how changes both large and small can help. If you want to improve your home’s energy efficiency, try:
There are a myriad of ways you can help improve your home’s efficiency, both large and small. Even something as simple as changing habits and unplugging more of your electronics when not in use can have a positive impact on your home’s energy needs. All of these steps mean you will see more of a financial and energy benefit with a solar energy system.
This step should be fairly intuitive, but bears enough weight that it is absolutely worth mentioning. Developing a financial plan is one of the best ways to see a better return on your investment both upfront and in the long term. With a solid financial plan in place, you can budget to prepare for any changes in monthly expenses and help make the most of the savings from running your home on solar power. In addition, an RGS Energy Broker can work with you to determine what your solar array will cost, create the best payment option for you, and even help you find and apply for solar incentives. These range from grants and tax breaks to monthly credits on your utility bill and more; the important part is that there are plenty of solar incentives out there to help you see even more savings on your solar panel system. Ready to learn more? Contact RGS Energy to start discussing your solar options today!
It probably seems like solar panels are very much a modern technology, so it may surprise you that the technology to harness solar energy was first developed late in the 1800s. Wild, right? We find it promising that people have been trying to develop and grow solar technology for centuries, even if it is only in recent few decades that it became usable on a large enough scale as to power a home or business. Still, solar power has been around long enough now to develop a few inaccurate ideas that seem to linger. It is high time to correct those wrong assumptions. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions about solar energy and an explanation for why they are wrong!
1. Solar panels only produce energy on sunny days.
False! Solar panel developers understand that they will not be working in perfectly ideal conditions all the time; they will be expected to work in the rain, sleet, and snow as well as on standard cloudy days. Your solar array will work to absorb as much sunlight as possible even if there is only the low light of a cloudy day. In addition, solar panels are generally installed on roofs for optimal sunlight absorption. The angle of the roof, and therefore the panels themselves, means that snow and debris usually slides off rather than blocking the panels. All this adds up to a solar array that will generate energy even on days with inclement weather.
2. Solar panels need a lot of upkeep.
Again, this is not the case! Solar panels are built to handle the wind, snow, and other small debris that storms can kick up. You will want to have your solar array inspected on occasion, just to ensure everything is in proper working order. Plus, New York does get some pretty heavy snows; if the snow doesn’t slide off your solar panels, you may need to help it along to clear your panels. Otherwise, your solar power system is made to just keep working away for years to come!
3. My roof will be damaged where my solar panels are installed.
Stop and think about this for a moment. Do you really think solar panel systems would continue to go on roofs across the nation if they were causing a great deal of damage? Yes, there will be a few holes drilled into your roof to attach the panels, but all holes will be properly sealed and protected. RGS Energy’s technicians stay up to date on the best practices for installation so your solar power system will be up to code and your roof will stay in good repair.
4. A solar panel system is too noisy for home use.
Definitely not true! Solar panels do not produce any sort of byproducts as they convert sunlight to energy, and that includes noise. The inverter converting AC to DC may generate a slight humming sound, but that will be a quiet sound, if it is even noticeable. Any noise coming from your solar power system will be about as noticeable as the sound your HVAC system makes while running.
5. A solar array will make my home worth less.
Just the opposite! Installing a solar array on your home is likely to increase the overall value, not decrease it. It may have been true in the past, when solar panels were new technology only recently available to the public, but today, having a solar array will pretty much always make your home worth more. According to a study run by the Department of Energy, home buyers were willing to pay an average of $15,000 for a home with a photovoltaic system. And that is a nation wide average, so that number may increase depending on where you live. Overall, though, you can generally expect that a solar power system is a good long term investment in terms of home value, not just energy savings.
6. Solar power systems are too expensive.
Not so much, anymore! Maybe paying for a solar array was a bit too spendy for the average household back in the late 1970s, but today, that’s generally not the case. In an effort to make solar energy more affordable and help more households make the switch, there are plenty of financing options, solar incentives, and energy savings that can help you pay for a solar array and enjoy the savings for years to come. With an average lifespan of 25 years (and growing), you can expect to see a pretty darn good return on your investment.
Of course, those are just the most common concerns we hear. If you have additional questions or concerns, let us give you the details so you can make an informed decision. Contact the RGS Energy team to learn more about switching to solar energy.
RGS Energy got its start in 1978 as Real Goods, a sustainable living store in Northern California that sold some of the first retail solar panels in the United States.
The Real Goods Store still sells sustainable living products, but now – as RGS Energy – we bring clean energy solutions straight to your home with expert solar panel installations that reduce the cost of your electricity. We serve much of New York, from Brooklyn through Yonkers, Hempstead, Schenectady, Long Beach and The Bronx.
Pay less for energy from America’s #1 Solar Company™.
Most of us are not likely to rush out and buy a new house, a new car, or even a new big screen TV without considering the financial side of things. So, of course it stands to reason that you would rather not dive straight into scheduling solar installation without talking about the cost. A strong financial plan will help you enjoy the most savings possible during the life of your solar array. We want you to enjoy the best benefits possible from your solar array, so the RGS Energy team is happy to talk finances and help you create the right financial plan for your household. Whether you are interested in paying for your system outright or you would rather take out a solar loan, we will help you set up the right payment plan so you can better enjoy the benefits.
There are perks to both a solar loan and paying outright, so start with the following chart to help you weigh your options:
There really is no wrong answer when it comes to the financial side of going solar. Both options allow you to pay for a solar power system on your terms, so you can get started sooner. We are committed to improving the environment through solar energy, so the more households we can help switch, the better! Call the RGS team to speak to an Energy Broker about setting up a financial plan and learn more about the local, state, and federal solar incentives available to help you pay for your solar power system.
On top of the various payment options that allow you to pay for a solar array in the way that works best for you, there are a diverse range of different solar incentives available to give you an extra financial boost. Politicians, environmental supporters, and so many other groups recognize the positive potential that solar energy presents for our environment on a global scale—but only if more households and businesses make the switch away from fossil fuel-powered electric. In order to help more people move to renewable resources, there are an abundance of incentives to give you a financial boost.
Federal Solar Incentives
At the national level, the federal government offers a range of different funding for Americans who make the move to bring more renewable resources into their lives. We suggest starting with The Energy Department’s website to learn more about the currently available federal solar incentives. There are a wide variety of different funding opportunities for both residential and commercial use and for a variety of different renewable resources, so if you want to learn more about the incentives available specifically for solar energy, an RGS Energy Broker can help walk you through the options available to you.
New York Solar Incentives
Presently, the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative is working to bring “affordable solar electric power to 150,000 new homes and businesses by 2020.” This is not the only state-offered solar incentive, either. You can learn more about New York solar incentives through the link to the NYSERDA website above. Of course, the RGS Energy team keeps up with all the current statewide incentives available, so we can help you find all the tax breaks and other financial incentives New York currently offers.
Local, Privately Funded, Etc.
On top of all the state and federal solar incentives, there are additional financial perks available on a local basis. Often, this can include an energy buy-back program through your local utility company, in which they will buy any excess energy your solar power system generates and use that to help power other homes nearby. In addition to the locally available perks, there are an ever-growing number of grants and other funds that privately owned groups offer to help more households make the move to solar. Talk with your RGS Energy Broker to get the details about what is available in your area and any other privately funded perks you may be eligible for.
RGS Energy is happy to help you find and apply for as many financial incentives as we can. We ensure that all of our technicians are currently certified and up to date on all the best installation practices. This way, your solar power system is likely to last longer, but it also makes the application process easier, so you can get as many of those incentives as possible. An Energy Broker from the RGS team will help you learn more about our process, provide details about the various financial incentives out there, and walk you through everything else involved in switching your home to solar energy. Learn more, get your questions answered, and get started on years of savings with a solar power system for your home. Contact RGS Energy today!
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